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  • Writer's pictureRev. Chris Brademeyer

The Visitation


A Sermon for the Visitation

The Visitation – 7/2/2024

Isaiah 11:1-5

Rev. Christopher W. Brademeyer

 

That portion from God’s holy Word for consideration this evening in our Old Testament lesson from the book of the prophet Isaiah in the eleventh chapter with special emphasis on verse one which reads as follows:

 

                                “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.”

 

Thus far the Scriptures.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Dear friends in Christ, today the Church observes the feast of the Visitation. As we read in our Gospel lesson, this day commemorates the visit of the blessed virgin Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus, to the St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist. Now this event is observed annually by us for a few reasons. Firstly, it reminds us that all life is precious to God. The gift of a child is a great blessing by God. As of late it has become in vogue in certain circles to dehumanize children in the womb. Some go so far as to call these little human beings parasites. The basic gist of this ungodly argument is as follows: a human being really is not a person that deserves rights and legal protections until a certain arbitrary point in their development takes place. The argument usually then says that until the child is outside of the womb and able to breathe on her own and consume food apart from the umbilical cord that child is not really a person in the legal and rights sense.

                But this logic is flawed. The atheist philosopher Peter Singer famously argued in a 1993 essay that infants should not be considered people having legal protections until after thirty days of age.[1] The logic here, as grim and evil as it is, is also consistent. If a child is not a child because it lacks certain abilities, then an infant after birth may also be considered to be less than human because it lacks certain abilities. Furthermore, the dangerous and evil equating of a human being’s status as a person with legal rights with certain abilities and aptitudes has also corresponded to an increase in the number of people who argue for legal suicide and euthanasia for the elderly, the sick, and the mentally ill.[2] In other words, many people have bought into the assumption that a human being only has value or a life worth living if he is able to contribute to society in some way, which is usually understood as a mix of subjective value and satisfaction and economic productivity.

                Dear friends in Christ, this is not what the Lord teaches us here! John the Baptist leapt in the womb of His mother at the presence of His Lord showing that not only do infants have human qualities such as an awareness of being in the presence of God, but that they can have faith in God! And what makes a human being a person deserving of legal rights is not some capacity to do certain things or live to a certain standard, but instead is intrinsically part of what it is to be a person. Each person has a dignity and a status as deserving of legal protection or, as our nation proclaimed on Independence Day back in 1776 in the famous Declaration, all people have an unalienable right to life. You have value under the law and rights before the government and your fellow man because you are a human being. There is no additional thing that you require. It is part of your nature to live and it is  the duty of any just society to protect your life until its natural end.

                Which brings us to the second and greater thing that this feast shows us: Jesus Christ became a man, submitting Himself to becoming a child in the womb of His mother, Mary. In so doing, our Lord began His task of redeeming all life, including the very smallest among us. Yes, our Lord Jesus was once a small embryo and grew and developed as all of us who have been born do. There was no point when He ceased to be God nor was there a place in His development that He was not yet fully man. For this reason, we Christians are against destroying children in the womb and only tolerate the suggestion of it in the most grave of circumstances.

                This Jesus, the little baby in the womb of His mother, is the long prophesied shoot who will come from the stump of Jesse. God’s people were cut off, the great tree that is the nation of Israel had long been felled by foreign powers and sin. But from that stump, one long written off by the world as lifeless and done produced the incarnate Author of Life Himself. Our Lord laid aside His glory and became a man, to suffer under sin, so that we might be saved. This shoot would grow to a great tree, the mightiest of sequoias that stands against all hail and storms, endures fires and floods, and remains still green and growing. And this Shoot, this Christ, He is your everlasting salvation, His death is your life, and His sacrifice is your forgiveness.

 

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.


[1] Scott Klusendorf, “Death with a Happy Face: Peter Singer’s Bold Defense of Infanticide,” Christian Research Institute, last updated on April 13, 2023. https://www.equip.org/articles/peter-singers-bold-defense-of-infanticide/

[2] Asher D. Colombo and Gianpiero Dalla-Zuanna, “Data and Trends in Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, and Some Related Demographic Issues,” Population and Development Review, published January 24,2024. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/padr.12605

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